The Consumer Product Safety Commission and General Mills said yesterday that parents who bought Cheerios cereal with a "powerball" premium should keep the toy away from small children, who might swallow it.

General Mills said it had stopped shipments of the 15- and 20-ounce boxes of Cheerios with the ball inside and had taken steps to remove packages containing the premium from grocery store shelves.

The warning applies to children 3 years of age and under.

A spokesman for General Mills, R. Craig Shulstad, said the company received a report this month that the ball had been involved in the accidental choking death of a year-old child. Four other incidents involving balls in the mouths of young children also were reported to the company, but none involved injuries, he said.

Shulstad said that about 10 million boxes of cereal containing the ball have been sold since May. Five million boxes are on retail shelves or are moving from factories to grocery stores.

The ball, which is similar in size to balls sold in stores for years, is nontoxic and comes sealed in a heavy plastic wrapper. Consumers with questions can contact General Mills at 1-800-328-1144.